£30 million to transform community assets

5 Sep 2007 02:22 PM

Community empowerment rose up the agenda as a programme to transfer public buildings to local organisations opens for applications today.

The £30 million Community Assets programme, funded by the Office of the Third Sector and delivered by the Big Lottery Fund, is a programme to enable third sector organisations to have greater control over the assets they use, such as community buildings.  It will facilitate the transfer of genuine assets from local authorities to third sector organisations for their use as community resources.

The programme will offer grants of between £150,000 and £1 million for refurbishment of local authority buildings, including community centres and other multi-purpose facilities, so they can benefit both local communities and the third sector organisations that take them on.

The Big Lottery Fund is holding regional seminars in each of its nine England regions between 4 and 14 September (a list of dates is attached). The seminars, attended by local authorities and their third sector partners, will focus on explaining the aims of the programme and the application process.

Phil Hope, Minister for the Third Sector, said: “It’s great that Community Assets is opening for applications today.  This is a real opportunity for community groups and local authorities to transform assets like community centres and other buildings into more vibrant and valuable resources of the whole community.

“Community Assets is about bringing people together and giving communities control over their own affairs, not simply painting buildings and fixing roofs. Taking on ownership of an asset will help third sector organisations to develop a base of independence and sustainability, which will enable them to grow and respond better to the needs of local people.”

Sanjay Dighe, the Country Chair of England for the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Community Assets programme is a perfect example of how BIG can apply its experience and knowledge of giving out funding on a large scale to distributing funds on behalf of other organisations.

“The Community Assets programme will give communities a greater stake in the buildings they use, making them a long-term sustainable local resource for a wide variety of groups. We are delighted to deliver the programme on behalf of the Office of Third Sector.”

The Community Assets programme welcomes applications from strong partnerships between local authorities and third sector organisations and will offer capital grants to sustainable projects that can demonstrate the benefit to the wider community from the transferred asset.

There will be a single bidding round for all applications, which closes on 15 November 2007. Application materials are available from Big Lottery Fund’s website: http://www.biglotteryfund.org.uk/prog_community_assets.htm

Community Assets Regional Seminar Timetable

RegionDate of Seminar
London Tuesday, 4 September 2007
East of England Tuesday, 4 September 2007
South West Wednesday, 5 September 2007
East Midlands Wednesday, 5 September 2007
South East Thursday, 6 September 2007
North East Friday, 7 September 2007
Yorkshire & Humber Tuesday, 11 September 2007
North West Tuesday, 11 September 2007
West Midlands Friday, 14 September 2007

 Further Information

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours contact: 07867 500 572
Public Enquiries Line: 08454 102030
Textphone:  0845 6021 659
Full details of the Big Lottery Fund programmes and grant awards are available on the website: www.biglotteryfund.org.uk

 Notes to Editors

  • Community Assets is a non-Lottery programme funded by the Office of the Third Sector.
  • The aim of Community Assets is community empowerment. It will do this by facilitating the transfer of genuine assets from local authorities to the third sector for the benefit of the community.  Community Assets will bring about the following outcomes:
  1. Local third sector organisations have greater security and independence, and are better able to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
  2. Communities have more access to better facilities that respond to their needs.
  3. There is more effective partnership working between local authorities and the third sector
  • The Big Lottery Fund rolls out close to £2 million in Lottery good cause money every 24 hours which together with other Lottery distributors means that across the UK most people are within a few miles of a Lottery-funded project.
  • The Big Lottery Fund, the largest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK since its inception in June 2004. It was established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to Good Causes. As a result, over £20 billion has now been raised and more than 250,000 grants given out across the arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.
  • The Office of the Third Sector was formed (OTS) in May 2006 in recognition of the increasingly important role the third sector plays in both society and the economy. It aims to drive forward the Government's role in supporting a thriving third sector, and join up sector-related work across government: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/third_sector.
  • From 30 March to 23 June the Office of the Third Sector ran a public consultation on how Community Assets will work.  A wide range of local authorities and third sector organisations responded to the consultation. The Office of the Third Sector summarized the responses and explained how they will influence the final programme on 10 August. http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/third_sector/news/news_stories/070807_community_assets.ap
  • The Community Assets fund was first proposed last year in the Pre-Budget Report (6 December 2006).  The issue of asset transfer was also addressed by Barry Quirk, the Chief Executive of the London Borough of Lewisham, in his Review of Community Management and Ownership of Public Assets. http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/communities/makingassetswork